Back to OMSI

Dear Liza,

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Steam engine running amuk

One way you can tell a really good Museum is when you can go several times in just a few months and keep seeing new things. Today I took cousins Jasper and Kestrel to OMSI, and I had so much fun! I picked the kids up at Books with Pictures and we hopped on the Orange Line train.

This huge locomotive was venting steam into the chilly air. The cloud was enormous! But what caught our eye was this fellow standing in the middle of the cloud of steam, apparently keeping an eye on things up there.

We got tickets for the regular Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and the King Tut exhibit, too. I had seen King Tut at the museum’s Halloween gala, but it’s always fun seeing things with kidlets…you see things through their eyes, and everything looks different.

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Watching the reveal of the tomb

For example, cousin Jasper was very taken with how Mr. Carter must have felt when he discovered the undisturbed tomb, and how exciting it is to discover new things. He was also pleased to actually see things that he had only read about.

I know I have told you before how much Jasper doesn’t like posing for pictures, so you will forgive me for having mostly Kestrel photos. Both kids were fascinated, listening to the commentary on the audio guides and staring at the artifacts. Kestrel was intrigued by the sarcophagus but hurried by the replica of King Tut’s actual mummy, but I can’t blame her. He’s been dead over 3,500 years and doesn’t look very well.IMG_2252.jpeg

After we had looked, listened and read everything and were headed down for lunch, we saw a new thing which held our attention for another hour: The World of Animation. This well designed, hands on, kid friendly exhibit allows kids (and their lucky adults) to create stop motion animation, make sound effects for cartoons, and act in short movies of their own. It was wonderful!

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Concentration

By the time we were done, I was really ready for some lunch. I pried the kids away and we went downstairs to Theory, the museum’s cafe, for pizza on the terrace. It was chilly but not yet raining, and we had coats, so we enjoyed the fresh air. The terrace faces the Tilikum, Marquam, and Hawthorne Bridges as well as the beautiful Willamette, so we had a great view as we nibbled.

By then, it was two o’clock and we needed to leave by three, so I gave the kids one hour in the big Hall. There are so many hands on activities, I never want to leave. Kestrel launched a water rocket which flew straight up to the ceiling of the huge room and Jasper spent his time figuring out some Tangram style puzzles and playing with the orbit table.

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Making things happen

On our way out of the museum, we stopped by a room where some amazing gingerbread creations were on display. A talented group of artists had made funny gingerbread art, using the King Tut exhibit as inspiration. Some had Minions, some had mice, and they were all beautiful, silly, and edible!

Sphinx cat catching some mice

Finally, I had to pull the plug on the day so we could get home before we all melted down. We read comic books borrowed from Auntie Katie’s shop at the train stop and got back to Books with Pictures just as the rain started.

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Art at Books with Pictures

By the time I got myself home, it was raining for real and I was wet and cold, having forgotten my Indiana Jones hat at home. Oh well, hot tea and dinner put me right again.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

Another Transit Adventure, Part 2

Dear Liza,

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Yes, it’s supposed to do that!

At Tanner’s Spring Park, we all enjoyed the undulating fence made from old railroad rails and the paths paved with ballast from sailing ships.

The Spring itself rises through a paved circle and meanders along tiny streams on its way to the Willamette, creating an environment enjoyed by birds, insects, and lizards, and us! We imagined our characters shrinking to one inch tall and adventuring on the tiny “river” and flying between the tall grasses. My delight in this nature preserve surrounded by glass high-rises must have been contagious.

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Urban nature preserve

At lunch time, the kids agreed on sushi. We stopped at Sinju, where the ladies were very accommodating and made Kestrel mango sushi. Though she ended up mostly lunching on the crackers and fruit I had brought along, her roll didn’t go to waste: Jasper enjoyed his California roll AND his sister’s lunch. He’s a growing dragon, after all.

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Jasper of the Jungle

Walking toward the streetcar home, we watched it go by…but no harm done. It went by just in front of Cool Moon Ice Cream! A wonderful snack, Shel Silverstein poems (I always bring books on adventures)  and interesting knit cow heads helped pass the time until the next streetcar.

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Knit Cow? Why not?

Our energy was starting to fade as we watched the city pass by the windows. Crossing the Tilikum Crossing Bridge, we had incredible views of Mt. Hood with a fresh frosting of snow, rising like a ghost over the east side of Portland.

We switched from the streetcar to the Orange line at OMSI and rode it just one stop down to get off by Books with Pictures. We were all pretty much out of gas. The kids tucked in with books on the beanbag chairs, and I walked home and napped for an hour. Adventuring is exhausting!

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Mt. Hood with frosting

Love,

Grandma Judy

OMSI

Dear Liza,

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We’re Here!

Yesterday Cousins Jasper and Kestrel and I went to OMSI, The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. It is only one train stop from their house and we spent the whole day there! At the train stop, we met a nice lady named Maria and her son Josue. They mostly spoke Spanish, so I got to practice speaking Spanish for a while. They met some friends and off they went.

The Museum moved from Washington Park, where the Zoo and Rose Test Garden are, to the current site on the east bank of the Willamette River, in 1992. It has a Planetarium, space capsule, a hall for changing exhibits, and a large hands-on room called Turbine Hall.

We started with a visit to the temporary exhibit on The Robot Revolution. The first floor was very informative, and we read a lot about how robots are built, how they ‘learn’ new information, and how they move. There was a small soccer filed sort of area where two robots were trying to score goals while another robot tried to block them. We could even make robots move, like this big spider walking one, or a robot about 10 inches tall who was programmed to do different moves, like push-ups, headstands, or wave.

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Big Spider Robot
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Learning by Watching, then Doing

Upstairs, the exhibits were much more hands-on. Kestrel played tic tac toe against a robot, and mostly played to a tie. She used “grippers”, what robots use for hands, and had to do a lot of figuring out to make them work. It was great to watch her brain work!

While Kestrel was doing these things, Jasper was building robots with Cubelets. These are, as you might guess, cubes that you put together to make robots. Each cube has a different job: battery, mover, light, rotator. By putting the different cubes together in different order, you can make robots that move, light up, or other things. Jasper worked on these for almost an hour, finally creating a robot different from anyone else’s, that walked in a weird wobbly fashion while lighting up.

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Jasper’s Robot

We bought lunch in the cafeteria, pizza and fruit juices, and ate on the patio that looks out over the river between the Tilikum Crossing Bridge and the Marquam Bridge. It was a very pretty day, so there were lots of bicyclists, joggers, and boats to watch, as well as cars and trucks on the Marquam and trains on the Tillikum, which is only for mass transit, walkers and bikes.

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Tillikum Crossing

After lunch we visited another part of the museum, Turbine Hall. This is a room almost as big as a football field, full of hands-on activities to study air pressure, gravity, wind, sound,water and engineering. The exhibits are so well designed that if a child can reach it, they can be successful at some level at it. Kestrel enjoyed exploring the wind and water areas, while Jasper enjoyed working with other kids to build an arch or make a machine play Score Four. There aren’t any pictures of Jasper because he hates having his picture taken.

We stayed at the Museum until almost 5 o’clock, and there wasn’t a cross word or bored moment. I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Portland with children!

We left in time to make dinner and feed the cousins and Auntie Katie when she got home from Books with Pictures.

What a wonderful day!

Love,

Grandma Judy